Developer talks LEGO Batman

In 2005, developer Traveller's Tales created the video game version of the peanut butter cup when they combined the LEGO brand and the Star Wars franchise. After the first game became a huge hit, the developer followed up with a second game encompassing the original Star Wars trilogy, and then combined both for "Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga" in 2007. With the LEGO video game franchise firmly established, Traveller's Tales moved on to their next game, "LEGO Indiana Jones," which was released earlier this year.

On September 23, another icon will be LEGO-ized, when "LEGO Batman" hits shelves in the U.S. CBR News as fortunate enough to catch up with Tom Stone, Managing Director of TT Games Publishing, to talk about what fans can expect from the title, and how it differs from previous installments in the LEGO video game franchise.

CBR: As opposed to following the plots of movies, "LEGO Batman" has a storyline that was created just for the game. What can you tell us about the game's story?

Tom Stone: When all of Arkham's inmates break out and flood the streets, they have one goal in mind; taking over Gotham City once and for all. But not all of the villains see eye-to-eye, and they quickly separate into three groups: one led by The Joker, one managed by The Riddler, and the other by The Penguin. Once the leaders have picked their henchmen, they get to work. The Riddler plans to tackle Gotham's gold reserve, causing misery by bankrupting the good people. The Penguin seeks the resources to build a gargantuan Penguin army. And the Joker? Oh, all he wants to do is make everyone laugh.

You've already announced a ton of playable characters for the game: Batgirl, Nightwing, Bane and Clayface are among the more recent ones. How many characters total can we expect to be playable?

There are over 50 characters in the game, including most of the heroes and villains in the Batman universe. We've been steadily unveiling them for a while now, but we've still got a few jaw-dropping, fan-rousing unveils to come.

How has the combat evolved from previous LEGO games to reflect the different fighting styles of all the playable characters?

Combat for "LEGO Batman" provided us with a huge opportunity. Hand-to-hand combat was something we'd only touched on previously, but for "LEGO Batman" we set out to bring out the distinctive fighting styles of each individual character with a dramatically developed system. We've added grabs, throws and loads of special moves to spice things up. And with a huge array of different weapons added to the mix, you'll find that we've taken things to a new level.

Can you tell us a little about the "tech suits" that Batman and Robin will have access to in the game?

Batman is a distinctive superhero in that he has no inhuman powers -- so, to get around the dense, towering city of Gotham, he uses amazing special equipment. Different "suits" give him different powers and protections. Batman and Robin only have these abilities for a short period, so each player has a critical role to play. Additions like Robin's magnet suit really begin to make you think differently as well. Should I climb that bridge? Or do I need to stick to the underside of it?

Some of Batman and Robin's coolest gadgets are their vehicles. What vehicles will players get a chance to use in the game?

Everything! The Batmobile, Batwing, Batbike, The Joker copter, The Riddler Plane, ice cream vans, bullion vans, Bruce Wayne's private jet, tug boats, go karts, and more.

One of the features of the game is the ability to replay completed levels with the villains instead of the heroes. How will the game change when you play through the perspective of the villains?

The baddies are a lovable cast and without them Batman would be a bored, jobless Bruce Wayne. Each enemy of Batman has tried to defeat him with an elaborate scheme, and with so many failed attempts its time we let players guide these fools! Players will spend their first 15 hours rebuilding the dark streets of Gotham, before smashing it all down with the hands of the villains, like a lovingly crafted sandcastle or LEGO model. The three villain storylines will unfold over 15 villain mode-specific levels that include both platforming and vehicle sections, moving through: the Fairground, the Sewers, Gotham Harbor and so on. Villain mode is no heavy moral choice. We know players already have their own greedy agenda; to break bricks, collect studs and gain that coveted 100%.

From a design standpoint, the backgrounds in "LEGO Batman" appear less LEGO-centric and much more detailed. What took you in that direction when designing the world of "LEGO Batman?"

We've certainly taken our graphics to a new level with each successive LEGO game; and the team worked hard to create a beautiful, next-gen, comic book Gotham City for "LEGO Batman." New lighting and shadow effects make the backgrounds look colorful, detailed and realistic. At the same time, though this game is bursting at the seams with LEGO! If anything this is the most "LEGO-centric game" yet. Every section is full of LEGO objects, and some of them are made of hundreds of pieces.

In terms of fan service, what are some of the nods to Batman lore --comics, movies, animated series-- that can be found in the game?

We're all huge fans of Batman and the DC Comics universe in general -- so you'll find everything and everyone in Gotham City treated with love and respect. The game is founded on our wide-ranging knowledge of Batman's many adventures over the decades -- and you'll see evidence of that in every detail.

In terms of multiplayer, which platforms will have online and/or offline co-op modes?

XBOX 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, PS2 and DS all have offline co-operative play. We've always set out to bring people together on the same screen, where you share one another's reactions more closely.

Now that Traveller's Tales is a part of Warner Bros., what are the chances of seeing a LEGO Justice League versus Legion of Doom game?

We can't reveal any future titles at the moment, I'm afraid -- but we do have some very exciting plans for LEGO games.

"LEGO Batman" will be available in the U.S. on all platforms September 23. The game launches in Europe and Australia in October.

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